Thin Lizzy – Chinatown 1980 – 94%

Thin Lizzy are truly an amazing band. Phil Lynott’s poetic and thoughtful lyrics coupled with his superb songwriting skills simply make for an outstanding musical formula that the band has repeated again and again and again to moderate success. Chinatown is simply another nearly flawless Thin Lizzy album.

The positive We Will Be Strong runs out at you with all guns blazing. This song contains some of the band’s most inspired twin guitar leads, and some of Lynotts finest lyrics. If you’ve ever had an off day and you simply don’t feel good, listen to this song. The twin leads give off a very classy positive vibe sure to shake anyone out of a downer. Phil Lynott has one of the smoothest and most reassuring voices in rock, and that causes confidence to literally radiate out of the speakers and into your heart. The title track drops this attitude, and begins to go for a more mysterious rocking feeling. Brian Downey is probably the most underrated drummer in the history of music. His playing here is refreshing, crisp, and is absolutely what ties everything together behind the scenes.

The title track also features a fairly heavy main riff. The distortion is fairly low, but who gives a shit? This is rock n’ fuckin’ roll! It just happens to be rock n’ fuckin’ roll that is borderline metal. Sweetheart is another fairly uplifting tune that yet again shows off Phil Lynott’s casual and suave finesse with the ladies. This man is a ladies’ man to end all ladies’ men. His bass playing doesn’t make its presence nearly as known, being quite content with bringing up the low end of the songs. But what you can hear is enjoyable and spunky licks. Take the intro to Sugar Blues for instance. The bass intro shows off Phil Lynott’s personality. It has a bit of a bouncy quality. Then the vocals kick in a bit later, and the womanizer goes to work. His bass also shines through on the intro to Hey You. What is it with musical atmosphere making me think I’m in a rainy dark city lately? It does that here.

Genocide is a fairly heavy track. The riffing is very vintage 80s heavy metal. Phil Lynott continues his clever lyrical escapade and sings about people not taking kindly to killing of the buffalo. Killer on the Loose is a fast rocker dealing with Jack The Ripper-esque subject matter, while Having a Good Time is about…well, having a good time! This song completely idealizes what’s great about rock and roll.

“Everybody likes to get a little crazy, in their own particular way. But my buddies and I, we go over the top, and go over again today.”

After the first verse, Lynott shows off his poetic and throws in a bunch of wordplay involving similar sounding words. Pretty entertaining, but somewhat useless. There’s a little bit of corny, “HIT ME WITH THAT DRUM AS HARD AS YOU CAN!” type of shit going on. What adds insult to injury is that when Downey actually hits the drums…uhh…as hard as he can, it stays at the exact same volume level. It just seems a little…well, dated? I don’t know. Then again, it’s rock n’ fuckin’ roll! This shit doesn’t have to be serious. Being laid back is probably one of the best qualities a band could even have. Didn’t I is the obligatory ballad, and it rules. Yeah, I’m saying a ballad rules. What are you going to do about it? You’re going to listen to this ballad and agree with me.

Phil Lynott was such a romantic dude. Any guy would be lucky to be half as romantic as he was.

This album is textbook Lizzy. If you like any of their mid/late 70s output, you’ll like this as well. Thin Lizzy simply had some kickass mojo going for about a decade that forced them to continue throwing out great albums, and this one is no exception. No Thin Lizzy would be complete without this, as it is one of their MANY masterpieces.


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